The Surplus Goods (SG) section of the Cental Stores Department serves a dual role; it ensures inventory control and facilitates the redistribution of items once they are no longer needed within the campus system. Studying the Surplus Goods section will determine the level of sustainability at which it functions. This study will provide the framework by which recommendations for change can be made.

Before an evaluation can begin, it is essential to take a step back and analyze the current system and how it functions.


The boundaries of the study will be defined by the flow of goods which are the property of the University of Waterloo through the surplus goods system. These goods consist of the contents of the general inventory of university owned goods. This is a material, rather than a physical boundary.

Background Information

System Study

The identification of the Surplus Goods System (SGS) can best be portrayed by following the life cycle of an item. The life cycle can best be demonstrated with a widget; any generic item which is brought into the campus system. The life cycle can be viewed schematically by clicking on the highlighted title. A widget is brought into the system through purchasing on request of a department head. It remains in the system for an undetermined length of time, until it is of no use to the original user. It is then sent to surplus goods to be disposed of in the most economical means available. This process enables the university to keep track of all university owned property, ensure it is properly disposed of with maximum profit.

The subsequent stages in the life cycle of the widget take place when a department wants to get rid of one because it is no longer of use to them. The department head calls Surplus Goods to pick up the widget. Within a week, the widget is picked up and taken to the SGD where it is inspected by Ken Moody, the head of the SGD, who makes a decision, based on the age, condition, level of technology, etc., as to whether or not the widget may be of use to other departments. If it has potential to be useful to the university, departments are given the first opportunity to purchase it. If it is decided that the widget is of no real use to anyone at all, it is either sold for its recyclable parts or sent to the landfill.If a department does purchase the widget, it is re-entered into the cycle and remains in the possession of that department until it is ,once again, declared useless and sent to Surplus Goods. If no departments seem to want the widget, it is declared surplus,entered into the campus surplus inventory, and is made available for purchace by staff, faculty, students, and the public. In order to periodically clear out the Surplus Goods area, quarterly sales, which are advertised in the Waterloo Cronicle and the Gazette, are held. If, after a given period of time, the widget has not been purchased, it will either be recycled or sent to the landfill (depending on what it is).

Another aspect of the Surplus Goods involves any faculty or staff member in any department that requires a widget. This person has two choices. One option is to request the widget from their department head. The department head then decides whether to purchace the item new or through Surplus Goods Presently, there is no requirement to check with surplus goods before deciding to purchase a widget brand new. If the item is purchased new, it is then registered into the general campus inventory which keeps a record of all items purchased by all departments. If the department buys the widget from surplus, it is recycled through the system once again. The second option involves the faculty or staff member checking with Surplus Goods before consultion the department head. If a satisfactory widget is available in Surplus Goods, the faculty/staff member can simply ask their department head if it can be purchased. If a purchase from Surplus Goods occurs, the widget, as in the prior example, is re-entered into the system until it is no longer needed by the new department.

System Evaluation Analysis

The aim of our system evaluation is to discover if the Surplus Goods section is functioning in a sustainable manner. To fully answer this question, we will be examining two key criteria, Awareness/Accessibility and Diversion/Use.(see System Evaluation Flow Chart)

Awareness distinguishes between those who realize that there is a surplus system and those who do not. This also involves the degree of awareness including such factors as where it is, and how it operates. Accessibility, closely integrated with awareness, addresses the knowledge of one's access to the system, the relative ease in using the system, and the equity of access within the system.

Diversion and Use both entail the reallocation of resources. This deals with what sort of items are coming into the system, how, the pools and fluxes within the system, and what items are leaving the system and how.

The combination of these factors will provide us with the necessary information to assess if the Surplus Goods Section functions sustainably.

In our attempt to determine Awareness/Accessibility and Diversion/Use, a number of questions must first be answered. These questions can be categorized into two groups: those that help reveal the Awareness/Accessibility of the Surplus Goods Section and those that help reveal Diversion/Use.(see System Evaluation Flow Chart)

The answers to these questions will come from various sources including, Surplus Records, Purchasing Records, Ken Moody, and a Survey.

Surplus records will inform us of those faculties that have turned an item over to Surplus Goods, what the item is, the cost of the item, and the date. This information reveals who is using the Surplus Goods Section, when , and what types of goods are being sent.

In turn, purchasing records will inform us what is being bought, who is buying the surplus items, and if the item is leaving or staying on campus. We will also find out how long the item was in storage before it was reused.

Ken Moody, head of Central Stores is a critical source in explaining the system and how it operates. Through an interview, he will be able tell us exactly what happens to an item from the time he receives it to when it leaves Surplus Goods. Through his input, we will become familiar with the types of items that are frequently sent to surplus as well as what types of things may be more popular reuse items than others. His expert opinion of whether or not e-mail and use of the internet will help us to determine if the Surplus Goods system can become more acessable, thus used on a more frequent basis.

Our surveys will give us a good look at how the students, faculty and staff (click for further survey information) of the University of Waterloo perceive the surplus goods department--if they perceive it at all. We will learn how people found out about surplus goods and why they use it or do not use it. We will also find out how frequently surplus is used and checked for desired items before any purchasing of new products is done.

We will also be gathering important facts from Patti Cook, waste co-ordinator; Dr. James Kay, ERS professor; Bob Elliot, operations manager; and Jim Natran, purchasing officer.

Patti Cook is an excellent source of guidance and is familiar with how to approach WatGreen projects. She is also a great source of information and connections. Dr. James Kay is the instructor of this course and is a source of information, guidance, and criticism. Bob Elliot oversees the functioning of the SGD and has authority over any major changes within the department. Jim Natran oversees the purchasing of both new and surplus items.

With the use of the mentioned sources and techniques, we will be able to see if our two main criteria are met and thus answer our main question: Is the Surplus Goods Center Functioning Sustainably?


The examination of each subsystem on campus allows for a clearer picture of the larger system, the University of Waterloo. Carrying out this study design will enable us to complete a thorough examination of a university system, thus allowing us to draw conclusions as to its role in the sustainability of the campus. This also allows us to propose recommendations concerning the future and development of the Service Goods Department. Creation of a sustainable/green campus is an important goal to work towards. It provides examples for others to follow, in addition to creating an increasingly efficient, earth friendly campus. An examination of the surplus goods department will aid in the realization of these